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Full text of "My country and my people"

THE    ARTISTIC    LIFE                      279
and infinitely variable without ever exhausting its forms. In other words, nature's beauty is a dynamic, and not a static, beauty.
It is exactly this beauty of movement which is the key to Chinese calligraphy. Its beauty is dynamic and not static, and because it expresses a dynamic beauty, a beauty of momentum^ it lives, and it, too, is infinitely variable without exhaustion. A swift, sure stroke is appreciated because it is made swiftly and powerfully at one stroke, thus possessing a unity of movement, defying imitation or correction, for any correction is immediately detected as disharmonious. Incidentally, that is why calligraphy as an art is so difficult.
That the ascribing of beauty in Chinese calligraphy to the animistic principle is not my own fancy can be proved from Chinese references to the "meat," "bones'* and "tendons" of strokes, although their philosophic import has never been consciously laid bare until one comes to think of ways and means by which calligraphy can be made intelligible to the West. Thus Madame Wei, the talented aunt of Wang Hsichih, said:
In the writing of those who are skilful in giving strength of stroke, the characters are "bony"; in the writing of those who are not skilful in giving strength of strokes, the characters are "fleshy." Writing that has a great deal of bone and very little meat is called "sinewy writing," and writing that is full of flesh and weak bones is called "p^SY writing." A writing that is powerful and sinewy is divine; a writing that has neither power nor sinews is like an invalid.
The dynamic principle of movement results in a principle of structure which is essential to an understanding of Chinese calligraphy. The mere beauty of balance and symmetry is never regarded as the highest form. One of the principles of Chinese writing is that a square should never be a perfect square, but should be higher on one side than the other, and that two symmetrical parts should never be exactly similar in size and position. This principle is called shift, or "posture," which represeuts a beauty of momentum. The result is thatf